Grace Brown will join a rather exclusinve club Friday night when she is crowned the 2013-2014 Booneville High School Homecoming Queen.
Brown, who was chosen via a student body election, will be just the 85th to hold the title in what began in 1929 with Louise Ward — there were co-queens one season.
If history is any indication, Brown will no doubt remember Friday’s festivities for a long time.
"I still remember how much I smiled that day. It made me feel so special to know so many thought enough of me to vote me to be queen," said Amy (Ray) Daniel, the 1995 queen.
Bethany Walker, the queen just two seasons ago, remembers the week as a group event.
"My favorite memory from homecoming would definitely have to be hanging out with all of the other girls on the homecoming court," said Walker. "It was so great to get to know each of them and just experience everything with them."
Queen of the 1979 game, Elaine (Fritsche) Jones said, "mostly, sharing the excitement with my classmates."
The Queen in 1981, Terry (Hale) Crowley had a unique experience in which she "got to ride around the track before the game in one of Jack and Reba Baggett’s old restored cars. It was so nice and Mr. Baggett and Bobby Halford were in the front seats and it was so neat to drive by the home stands with everyone waving.
"I would also like to say that my mom and Susie Beason worked so hard to make that week special for me and I probably haven’t ever thanked them enough."
Cindy (Cunningham) DuPree, the queen in 1977 remembers a rainy day and wet ceremony but also "I was kissed on the cheek by our principal Pet Prewett and Kenny Fritsche! Ha! During all that they really made me feel like a queen."
For some it is a family affair, as was the case with Emily (Wall) Crowley in 2005.
"What I remember most about Homecoming was getting to share the experience with my cousins," said Emily Crowley. "Chelsey Warren was the 11th grade maid and Jake Bolyard escorted and crowned me."
It is also kind of fitting that Brown is the queen this year.
"That day was one of the best days of my life and I remember every second of it like it was last week, " says 2010 queen Emalee Austin. "My homecoming experience was made extra special because my escorts were my boyfriend, Isaac Brown, and childhood family friend Cody Tabler. Not only did my boyfriend get to escort me but his younger sister, Grace, was 9th grade maid the same year and their mom, Thresa, coordinated the ceremonies so it was a family affair!"
Austin was actualy on hand to film the announcement this year.
"Grace just sat there for a minute," says Thresa Brown. "She was trying really hard not to cry. She didn’t want to be in pictures with a crying face."
"My initial reaction was very emotional with many tears," said Lindsey King, the queen in 2009. "As a girl who grew up in this town and who participated in homecoming for as long as I can remember, it was always a dream to be a homecoming queen. It was very overwhelming that my classmates felt that I deserved it."
Shock is also common reaction. Daniel said she went from shock to awe to doing the "hand to the mouth because I was so happy."
Jones said hers was "pretty much disbelief." Emily Crowley said she was surprised and happy.
DuPree said, "there was a lot of buzz all week about who would get chosen royalty but I didn’t think a thing about it because I was not in anything like cheerleading, band or certain clubs so I didn’t even give that stuff a second thought so my stomach dropped when I heard my name over the intercom."
Like King, Terry Crowley and Emily Crowley, Brown is a Bearcat cheerleader, and while many more of her predecessors have also come from those ranks, it is not a pre-requisite. Austin was the Golden Dazzler dance team captain; Daniel and Jones were athletes; Walker was a team trainer.
Most former queens polled say they still come home for homecoming.
"I went back several times to watch my brother play and years later my nephew, Tanner Fritsche play," said Jones, who now lives in Sherwood and is a photographer. "Our class reunion met at the homecoming game three years ago. It was a lot of fun!"
Terry Crowley said she also makes it home from time to time, but it is difficult because she is a teacher in Charleston.
Of course coming home for some that itsn’t difficult. Wall is a pre-kindergarten teacher here, Austin is completing an elementary school teaching degree, and King a middle school teaching degree. DuPree spent 18 years with the school district but now works in Kansas.
For one, Brooke Helton, the queen in 2006, homecoming games have been sparse, but now that she is a sixth grade teacher here, that is likley to change.
Walker is a nursing student at the University of Central Arkansas. Daniel has a brother on the team, and nephews on the way.